The first of the two centres planned to promote shared electric mobility and smart grid standards have been opened near Chicago.
The European Commission (EC) and the US Department of Energy (DoE) launched the Interoperability Centre project jointly, in an effort to boost deeper penetration of renewable technologies into the electricity systems.
The centres will work towards converging standards and interoperability of smart grids, electric vehicles and charging systems on both sides of the Atlantic. The facilities will include laboratories for testing of technologies, electric vehicles, batteries and related supply equipment.
EC and DoE hope the cooperation will drive products and service innovation in Europe and the US and could eventually result in establishing global electric mobility standards.
Smart grids are upgraded electricity networks that provide a two-way digital communication between supplier and consumer, thus responding in a flexible way to the user's needs. The interoperability between smart grids and electric vehicles could therefore help to achieve better energy efficiency, improve air quality in cities and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels in order to move towards a low-carbon economy.
The European part of the Interoperability Centre will be located at the Joint Research Centre site in Petten, the Netherlands, and in Ispra, Italy. Both facilities are expected to be opened in 2014.
The Interoperability Centre project could play an important role in technology harmonisation in Europe an the USA after the trade and investment agreement currently in negotiation by the EU and the US comes into force. The agreement aims to remove tariffs and differences in technical regulations, standards and certifications that result in additional cost and time delays to companies and consumers alike.